Why is Warmog's Armor so strong?
You build Warmog's. Pros build Warmog's. Heck, even your mom needs Warmog's once in a while. It's the next big fad, and everybody plus their dog is buying into it. Stacking health items such as Warmog's Armor has been extremely popular in Season 3, but it's a bit of a mystery as to why, given that the price decrease from attack damage was much greater than the decrease in the cost of health. Today's post will examine the trend behind rushing health items such as Warmog's Armor on bruisers versus traditional builds.
Item fads come and go, but nerfs will always stay the same
Let's quickly review what has been popular in the last few months. Prior to December, stacking Guardian Angels was all the rage in competitive play, and the popularity quickly spilled into solo queue games. As a direct result, Guardian Angel took a very heavy nerfbat to the face during the Season 3 patch. At the same time, resistances became more difficult to itemize for and attack damage became much cheaper. As a direct result, we saw a huge popularity in stacking resistance shred items, in particular The Black Cleaver. In response to the extreme BC-stacking trends and the subsequent rise to the AD caster class, players began to stack health in order to ensure they would not be instagibbed by a single combo of spells. And what better way to stack health than to build Warmog's Armor? As we are about to see, Warmog's has become much more effective in keeping tanks tanky with unintended results for the rest of the game.
Buying Warmog's is buying health at a discount
For several years, the cheapest base item for itemizing hitpoints was the Giant's Belt, at a rate of 2.58 gold per point of health. In Season 3, health is now worth 2.50g/HP, which means health is now 3.2% cheaper to buy than last season, while resistances are ~17% more expensive. At the same time, basic attack damage is 6.5% cheaper to buy than last season based on the price change of B.F.Sword. The marginal increase in damage dealt is not enough to account for the marginal gain in health, especially since health is valued many times more expensive than damage.
Keeping these numbers in mind, let's look at the case study of Warmog's Armor into account. Discounting health regeneration, you could buy 980-1330 health for 3000g in Season 2, while this season you're paying 2650g for 1000 health; effectively, we're now paying 2.65g per point of health, which is the halfway efficiency of the 3.06 to 2.25g range in Season 2. This also means Warmog's is disproportionately stronger earlier in the game as an item, just as Riot makes it so rushing health is better than ever early on.
Normally, this would be great, but let's keep one other factor in mind. With these changes, health on Warmog's is now 15% cheaper on purchase, which is much better than the 3.2% decrease in the health benchmark, giving you a big incentive to get it early. Additionally, buying health increases your effective hitpoints (EHP) more than buying resistances early in the game, especially now since resistances are more expensive. Warmog's is now cheaper to buy and gives more HP/gold. Now, let's force all of the tanks to stack health to counter the effectiveness of Black Cleavers. Mash these factors together and you have the recipe for an easy rush item which makes you exponentially harder to kill once you farm your first 3-4k gold. Faster than ever, bruisers can become tanks that will refuse to die in a single spell combo by buying a single item.
You can get tanky faster now, so what?
Riot is giving us a few mixed signals here. If you remember from before, buying basic attack damage in the form of B.F. Swords is now cheaper; however, Infinity Edge, the premiere rush item of AD carries, has been nerfed in damage efficiency by ~10%. Carries now have more incentive to rush The Bloodthirster, which is more survivability/lifesteal based than IE. A premium has been put on making on attack speed items, making final AD items even crappier.
At the same time, Rabadon's Deathcap has been nerfed even further; it's not even efficient when you rush the item anymore. Instead, AP carries are rushing penetration items such as Abyssal Scepter and Haunting Guise, with itemization trending towards burst and true damage. And surprise surprise, guess which stat counters penetration stacking and burst damage?
Sum this up: HP is better than before, AD and AP are both crappier. Warmog's is the only advanced item with a major focus towards bonus health. Guess what item we're going to rush to stay alive?
...And that's why everyone buys Warmog's now. As with all item balance problems, the fix for health stacking is very difficult. Nerf Warmog's too much and hashinshin will bitch for another 2 months. Buff AD carries too much and you bring back Season 2 meta. Buff early game AP items, and you risk making assassins too powerful. While not everybody would agree with me that Warmog's is a problem, I think the trends in health itemization are too great to ignore. Do you like the new item fad, or do you agree with me that health itemization needs balancing? Write a few lines below, and tell me what you think!
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